The Kansas City Royals avoided a series sweep Sunday with an 8-6 come-from-behind victory on the road against the New York Yankees, with a pair of late home runs turning the tide.
Both starting pitchers finished with mediocre numbers, but they were both immaculate early on, keeping the game scoreless through the first four innings. The fifth innings was a different story, with the sides coming together for seven runs.
The Royals struck first when Nick Pratto came through with a two-run single with the bases loaded, before Maikel Garcia followed with an RBI double, and they capped a four-run frame with an RBI groundout from Whit Merrifield.
But the best team in baseball this season answered right back, with Kyle Higashioka knocking in a run with his single before DJ LeMahieu brought him home with a homer to the short porch in right field.
Later in the seventh inning, with Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks on base, Anthony Rizzo fired the Yankees into a 6-4 lead with the longest hit of the game up to that point, a 418-foot home run over the right-field wall. .
Kansas City’s Hunter Dozier topped off the next inning with a 420-foot shot to left field, trimming the margin to 6-5 and setting up a thrilling finish.
Needing three outs to secure the win, the Yankees brought in elite relief pitcher Clay Holmes for the save, but things didn’t go according to plan.
Holmes got the first out, but then issued a five-pitch walk to Merrifield, before hitting Bobby Witt Jr with a pitch to put runners on first and second with Salvador Perez at the plate.
Perez had been swinging a hot bat lately with three home runs in the last seven games, and he added one more with a monstrous 441-foot nuke to center field to jump ahead 8-6 in the final frame.
Instead of giving the ball to a new closer, the Royals let Taylor Clarke head out again for his second inning to finish the job.
Yankees superstar Aaron Judge went hitless, but he did contribute two walks and a run.
The win is only the Royals’ second after their last 12 meetings with the Yankees.
Austin Riley takes it off for the Braves
A quality pitching duel erupted in the Atlanta Braves’ 1-0 win against the Arizona Diamondbacks, with Austin Riley hitting the first run of the game in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Braves ace pitcher Max Fried allowed four hits and two walks with five strikeouts in his seven scoreless innings, while Arizona’s Merrill Kelly was slightly better, allowing three hits and two walks with eight strikeouts over the same inning.
The Braves had five hits in the game, and two of them were by Riley, who has quickly established himself as a realistic NL MVP candidate.
Riley is fourth in the league in home runs (29), and second in total bases (239) – trailing only Aaron Judge.
Alvarez plays the hero in Houston
Speaking of players who have had incredible under-the-radar seasons, Houston Astros star Yordan Alvarez continued what is arguably the best hitting season in the majors with the game-winning homer in the team’s 3-2 win against the Seattle Mariners.
He went zero-for-four in regulation, but with the scores tied in extra innings, he came through with a clutch hit to drive in the winning run.
Alvarez leads the league in on-base percentage (.417) and trails only Judge in slugging percentage (.670 compared to Judge’s .671).